Leanne's daughter struggled with her mental health which led to drug addiction and criminal offences. Being in and out of jail, she lost guardianship of her children. Right away, Leanne knew that she wanted to care for her two grandchildren. However, her husband did not agree with her decision and left her to be a single parent.
“It was a big decision to take on a newborn and a 3-year-old, especially with still having to continue work.” Unlike most new parents, Leanne was unable to take time off work. She was still financially responsible for some of her own children, the youngest being 13.
For the first year of caring for her grandchildren, Leanne was overworked, stressed, and tired. She fell sick many times but continued to push through with help from those around her. “The Family Centre has been really great. I had counselling for one whole year because of my husband leaving and learning how to communicate with my daughter effectively. That has been so helpful in helping me to cope.”
Leanne’s children continue to help and support her with caring for her grandchildren. Her youngest son acts as a big brother and plays a huge role in guiding them. Her eldest has given her peace of mind by agreeing to care for the children should anything happen to her.
"The kinship system works," Leanne believes. She is happy that one day she will be able to explain everything to her grandchildren. “I want them to know that it’s okay for them to have a good life even if my daughter is not having one.” Leanne knows that her daughter will not be able to get them back and is currently applying for private guardianship. She aims to give her grandchildren the same opportunities that her own kids were able to have.
After many sacrifices, Leanne’s efforts did not go unnoticed. She received the Kinship Caregiver of the Year award for 2018 through the Alberta Foster and Kinship Association. “When they first called me about it I teared up. It was great to have the feeling that someone noticed what I was doing.” At the end of the day, Leanne hopes that her grandchildren will grow up and say that this was a wonderful experience for them too.